Joshua - our little man/the head of the household/the ruler of the roost - is a very visual and interactive kid.
He loves books. He loves colours. He loves to watch videos of himself when we show them to him. He enjoys Iggle Piggle or Teletubbies from time-to-time. He loves it when we pick up our mobile and let him see himself on the screen, selfie-style.
Look Who's Talking
He’s 18-months old, so his first words were, of course, “Mama” and “Dada”. He also loves to say “No”, too. He can moo like a Cow and hee can neigh like a horse. But one day recently he came out with “Tractor” (he’s obsessed with tractors). Of course he is, he’s a Devonshire lad (well, Scouse-Devonshire but...).
We were so proud. It was his first semi-difficult, significant word. And he pronounced it really clearly. It wasn’t one of them ‘Did he?’-’Didn’t he?’ situations. He said “Tractor” loudly, clearly and very excitedly. The sheer pride on his face when Lauren and I clapped enthusiastically was absolutely priceless.
It was one of those moments as a parent that keep taking you by surprise, and every time you’re as surprised - or more surprised - than you were the previous time. It’s a feeling that will never get old. There’s nothing else like it in the world.
If you’re reading this, you’ll likely be a parent - so you’ll know exactly what I mean. You could have had the worst day of your life; you could be in the worst mood after a truly horrific day; but when that moment of pure pride adorns your little one’s face, nothing else in the world matters anymore.
Bouncing Off The Walls
A couple of days after the “Tractorrrrrr” (high-pitched ‘Tract’, lower pitch ‘orrrrr’) incident, he was really grumpy. I forget why now - probably tired or hungry, or both. We decided to show him Snapchat: something we don’t really use personally, but both have installed on our iPhones.
He was instantly enamoured with the slew of silly Snapchat filters, especially the one that transforms him into a dog and gives him a really long tongue when he sticks his out.
It calmed him and settled him a little before it was time for milk, his ‘muzzy’ (a muslin cloth he’s been obsessed with since birth) and bed. He went off and slept like a… baby.
The next night, he was full of beans. We’re there thinking: there’s no chance we’re getting him off tonight. I mean, he’s genuinely bouncing off the walls, largely or in part due to my wife’s willingness to let him have an almost-three-hour nap earlier on in the day (WHY?) while I was out at work.
But we love seeing him full of energy, so we’re all having a laugh and just enjoying some time together, just the three of us. The next minute, he struts over - slightly unsteadily because he’s only recently started walking and still looks a bit like Bambi on ice - and picks up his mother’s mobile off the sofa.
He holds it to his ear and does his usual “Hi, Dad!”, which is one of his proud party tricks. He waddles about for half-a-minute or so speaking some unknown dialect of baby Japanese to himself.
Then, he goes for it. He looks slightly smug, obviously already aware of what he’s about to do.
His mother walks back into the lounge. He holds the phone aloft in her direction, as if handing it to her, and loudly bellows: “Snappppppchatttttttttt” (high-pitched ‘Snap’, lower pitch ‘chat’).
Me: “Whatttttttt (high-pitched ‘what’ from me) did you say, buddy?” He goes again, pointing the mobile a little higher in his mother’s direction, and with a bit more purpose.
“Snappppppchatttttttttt” (high-pitched ‘Snap’, lower pitch ‘chatttttt’).
We’re shocked. We clap, of course, like we always do to encourage him when he does something clever, and because we’re astounded that he’s been clever enough to pick up such an abstract word that he’s only heard a handful of times.
Shortly after, it dawns on me: Is my kid’s second significant word really ‘Snapchat’? It is - and I couldn’t be prouder.
Some might frown and dwell upon the fact that one of their child’s first words is the name of a social media platform. But I know - we know - it’s just the signs of a bright kid moving with the zeitgeist: a modern child, in a modern family, in a very modern and digitally-driven society.
I don’t know about you, but I get the impression that it’s a little bit frowned upon, even still in today’s digital age, for young children to be digitally advanced and influenced by technology.
But whether we like it or not, it’s just the world we now live in. And it’s only going to get more advanced - faster than ever before.